Thirty distinguished Fordham Law alumni from across the country received admittance to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court during this year’s annual admission ceremony at the Court in Washington, D.C. on May 14. As part of the ceremony’s festivities, the group spoke with Justice Samuel Alito, who explained the Court’s major rulings that had just been announced on Monday.
More than 1,000 Fordham Law alumni have been admitted to argue before the Supreme Court since the School’s initial group of 150 were inaugurated in 1986. This year, Fordham alumni traveled from California, New Mexico, Florida, and New York, among other states, to participate in the ceremony.
Supreme Court admittance is an “extremely important” honor for Fordham alumni, said Professor Constantine N. “Gus” Katsoris ’57, emphasizing that the diverse jurisdictional representation among graduates at this year’s ceremony illustrated that Fordham is a national leader in legal education.
Katsoris sponsored each of this year’s admitted alumni, and has sponsored past Fordham Law Deans John D. Feerick ’61, William Treanor, and Michael M. Martin. Katsoris attended this year’s ceremony along with Fordham Law Dean Matthew Diller.
“For many of the applicants, this is the capping of their career,” said Katsoris, who has sponsored Fordham alumni admittance to the Supreme Court Bar since 1986. “For me, after 30 years, it never ceases to be a thrill to appear before the highest court this side of heaven.”
Among the alumni admitted in this year’s ceremony were Louise Firestone ’85, SVP and general counsel of LVMH Inc. and a member of the Dean’s Planning Council; the Hon. J. Emmett Murphy ’66, a justice for the Westchester County Supreme Court for the Ninth Judicial District of New York, and his son, J. Emmett Murphy ’06; and Sarah M. Stevenson ’09, who is a shareholder with Modrall Sperling in Sante Fe, New Mexico.
The group witnessed the Court announce several major decisions, including a ruling to allow states to legalize sports gambling in Murphy v. NCAA; a ruling in McCoy v. Louisiana that affirmed the Constitution gives a criminal defendant the fundamental right to make decisions about his defense; and a ruling in Byrd v. U.S. that a person who has permission to use a rental car is generally entitled to the same Fourth Amendment protections as the driver who rented the car.
“It was a great experience, more moving than I expected, and humbling as well,” Firestone said. “It was awe-inspiring to sit so close to the justices in the courtroom and hear their decisions.” Both Firestone and Katsoris described Justice Alito as gracious with his time and thoughts after the admissions ceremony finished.
“Fordham did an amazing job making all of us feel our common Fordham Law bonds, even though we were of disparate class years,” Firestone said. “I met some new Fordham friends, and would highly encourage other Fordham grads to join next year’s contingent.”